Do you have any idea what a hit your single life takes when you get cancer? Breast cancer ESPECIALLY?
Think about it. As women preparing for a date with the opposite sex, we tend to pull out all the stops:
First, what will we wear? What will show off the best of the best and hide the parts that have had, well, happier moments shall we say...?
Then comes the hair. Hair is an accessory, a shield and can be a weapon of mass destruction if styled just the right way.
But now you are diagnosed with cancer. And the doctors are going to start to remove things from you one by one...
They actually try to make us men!
They remove our breasts.
They remove our ovaries or put us into premature menopause.
And they make our hair fall out.
Basically, we become Julie Andrews in "Victor/Victoria",
"You mean you want me to be a woman who is a man dressed to look like a woman??"
WHO THOUGHT THIS STUFF UP???
Before we get too desperate here, though, let us not forget the bionic part of the equation: Plastic surgeons can give our breasts a new life. This I know for a fact. My "new" ones look better than my "old" ones and I am not even done with reconstruction yet. (I adore my plastic surgeon. He is a genius and an artist.)
I have also discovered that one need not look like Phyllis Diller on a bad wig day. They actually can make a wig, made of human hair that looks exactly like your own. I mean EXACTLY. No one can tell it is a wig. And a wig is temporary because the hair WILL return.
The ovary business? Premature menopause is no picnic from what I hear... but think of it this way, you are never chilly again. You can wear a strappy dress that shows off your new breasts and fling your gorgeous human hair wig and not even shiver. True, you might be sweating and breathing a bit heavily, but a date may think you are positively longing for him... or have malaria. (Order a gin and tonic and tell him you need the quinine if you aren't attracted to him.)
I had my first cancer five years ago. I met someone after chemo. I was overweight because I gained 18 pounds of chemoweight. I had absolutely no self esteem and considered myself a cancer patient and not a woman any more. He didn't see that. He actually liked ME. I thought he was heaven sent. So much so I ignored his many flaws. And there were many. I thought he was the best I could do. But then I started to lose the chemoweight and come back to the person I used to be. It was then I realized the old me would never let a man get away with what I let this person get away with and I ended it. I really felt good about myself that day. It meant I must be getting better if I was willing to toss a boyfriend away when I was a breast cancer survivor and according to the world: washed up.
That is so not true!
We survivors have a lot to offer a new man. He just has to be the right kind. Someone who isn't afraid of a woman who has more courage and strength than anyone he has ever known. Someone who will drop everything, including a date with him, if a sister needs her, someone who has seen life from both sides and lives every moment.
What we need is a real man. Only the real thing will do after we have battled the Beast and won. Men who aren't afraid. Men who appreciate who we are under the hair and make-up. Men who you really can only find today on Turner Movie Classics.
Sadly, they don't seem to make too many of the old models anymore so you have to look hard to weed out the lemons. Some of our poor married sisters are stuck with lemons. You know who I mean. The kind who bail when things get a little rough. I cannot tell you how many women I know who have had their husbands leave them while they were in treatment. Can you ever imagine Cary Grant doing that? He would drive you to your infusions in a tuxedo for pete's sake. They are out there. Watch and listen carefully and you will separate the men from the boys.
Since my first diagnosis I have lost even more weight by cutting down all fats. I work out and am happy when I look in the mirror. My hair is nice and long and I feel like I look better now than I did before I had cancer. So what do I do with all this newfound joy and glee?
I get re-diagnosed.
THIS was not in my plan.
It gets better.
I actually found one. I met a real man. Amazing but true. I am telling you- keep your eyes open and be attentive- they are among us. I am attracted to this man and I think he may not be frightened off by the Warrior Angel that dwells in all us survivors. Isn't that perfect? I met him at the worst possible time. He is intriguing, intelligent, and a rare find. I do think he is attracted to me as well. Normally I would test this theory but I am letting the moment pass because I cannot move forward because my dance card is a bit full.
I will be starting chemo next week. In three weeks I will lose my hair. I have had my breasts removed - but they are a work in progress. I will be in chemo for six months. What is that old saying? Every time my ship comes in I am at the airport? It feels a bit like that. So this man will disappear back into real man land and find Myrna Loy or one of you. Granted, it was just at the attraction stage, nothing more. But I do have an active imagination...
But one thing I am not imagining is that THIS time, cancer is really getting in the way of my life. Life threatening? Oh yeah, that too. But that is why I am doing the chemo and that is why it is so VERY inconvenient right now.
Maybe after this is all over I will be feeling my invincible wonder woman self once again, someday.
But why wait? Why disintegrate into sloth and self pity just because I have an E ticket to Cancerland this summer? I did that LAST time. And I was miserable and had every side effect known to man.
So I made a decision. I am not having chemo. I am beginning boot camp. I am buying a new elliptical and will train on it every day that I can, with the exception of chemo days. I intend on NOT gaining weight from chemo. Rather, I am going to work on those places that have had happier moments and make the rest of me look and feel its absolute best. ( I have to make my body catch up to my new 18 year old breasts anyway!)
But seriously, maybe we have all been looking at chemo the wrong way. I can look at it like a prison sentence that is robbing me of a summer. Actually that is exactly how I HAVE looked at it. But no. This must stop now. Immediately! We women are beautiful. We should look at it like boot camp. It will suck, it will hurt, it will make us tired, but when it is all over we are buff fighting machines with the short haircuts to prove it.
So that is how THIS single woman is doing Round Two this time. I am challenging myself to not only make myself better on the inside- but on the outside as well.
I will keep you posted on my progress...
And should that elusive real man still flirt with me in six months? Well then, we will know I am on to something then won't we?
As one of my heroes once said,
"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
No Mr. Churchill, won't give in. Not now. Not ever.